CFP Semifinal Preview: Michigan vs. TCU Miscellaney

Tag: Fiesta Bowl

30Dec 2022
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CFP Semifinal Preview: Michigan vs. TCU Miscellaney

(image via Pro Dance Cheer)

Previously: Michigan Rush O vs. TCU Rush D (LINK), Michigan Pass O vs. TCU Pass D (LINK), Michigan Rush D vs. TCU Rush O (LINK)

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Now for a look at TCU’s roster and team history:

TCU players offered by Michigan include: WR D.J. Allen, S Chace Biddle, S D’Arco Perkins-McAllister, LB Landyn Watson, DT Damonic Williams, RB Corey Wren

TCU does not have any players from the State of Michigan.

Michigan has never played TCU. However, Jim Harbaugh is 1-0 against TCU head coach Sonny Dykes. When Dykes was at SMU (2017-2021), Michigan played the Mustangs in 2018 and beat them 45-20 in Ann Arbor. In that game, safety Josh Metellus made a huge interception and returned it 73 yards for an interception as time expired before halftime to make it 21-7 going into the locker room. Quarterback Shea Patterson was 14/18 for 237 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones caught all 3 of Patterson’s touchdowns. SMU receiver James Proche was the star for the opposition, catching 11 passes for 166 yards and 2 scores.

Interestingly, Dykes never played college football. He was the son of former Texas Tech head football coach Spike Dykes, but Sonny played baseball at Texas Tech before starting his career as a high school baseball coach. He eventually ended up coaching under Hal Mumme at Kentucky and then under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Overall, Sonny Dykes is 83-64 as a head coach with stints at the following schools:

  • Louisiana Tech (2010-2012): 22-15
  • California (2013-2016): 19-30
  • SMU (2017-2021): 30-18
  • TCU (2022): 12-1

He’s 1-3 in bowl games with the lone win coming in the Armed Forces Bowl in 2015 when Cal beat Air Force.

This is TCU’s first season without Gary Patterson as head coach since 2001. Patterson went 181-79 from 2001-2021 (technically, he coached TCU’s bowl game victory in 2000 after Dennis Franchione left to coach Alabama).

The highest TCU has finished in the polls was when they went 13-0 in 2010, including a 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, and were ranked #2 to end the season.

Why are they the Horned Frogs? Here’s a blurb from TCU’s admissions page (LINK):

The answer goes way back to 1897, when the yearbook staff of the then-named AddRan Christian University was looking to name its annual. Football began at the university the year before, and legend has it that the football field was covered in the small-but-mighty horned lizards. 

29Dec 2022
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CFP Semifinal Preview: Michigan Rush Defense vs. TCU Rush Offense

TCU running back Kendre Miller (image via ESPN)

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In case you missed it, here are the previews for Michigan’s rushing offense (LINK) and passing offense (LINK).

Michigan is #3 in rushing defense (85.2 yards allowed/game) and #5 in yards allowed per attempt (2.92). They have allowed just 7 rushing touchdowns this season, which is tied for #4 in the country. Only four teams all season (Hawaii, Penn State, Illinois, and Ohio State) topped 4.0 yards per carry, and only one of those (PSU) got above 5.0. The defensive unit has been served well by freak nose tackle Mazi Smith, who is playing in this game and has not missed any time despite gun charges being levied against him. Smith has made 45 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss this season. The leading tackler is middle linebacker Junior Colson, who has 95 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Disruptive defensive end Mike Morris (21 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks) is back after getting injured against Illinois. It’s a good unit from front to back, but Michigan did have some tackling woes in the Big Ten Championship Game against Purdue, so they will have to be better against some solid runners for TCU.

The primary runner for the Horned Frogs is junior Kendre Miller (6’0″, 220 lbs.), who ran 216 times for 1,342 yards (6.21 yards/carry) and 17 touchdowns. In three games against ranked teams this season, Miller ran 67 times for 373 yards and 4 touchdowns. Backup Emari Demercado (5’11”, 210) is a senior who has 90 attempts for 472 yards and 5 scores. Another rushing threat is quarterback Max Duggan (6’2″, 210) who has 112 attempts for 404 yards and 6 touchdowns. Against Oklahoma and in the Big 12 championship, Duggan ran for over 100 yards; he has good speed and isn’t afraid of contact. Despite all the rushing success, TCU had zero linemen on the First Team All-Big 12 unit; however, they did manage to land three players on the second team: redshirt senior left guard Steve Avila (6’4″, 330), redshirt senior center Alan Ali (6’5″, 300), and redshirt junior right tackle Andrew Coker (6’7″, 315). Avila is probably the best of the bunch; Coker plays a little bit high at times, and I think Ali will get pushed around by Mazi Smith. Overall, TCU is #25 in rushing offense (200 yards/game) and #19 in yards per attempt (5.23).

Advantage: Michigan. While TCU is a formidable unit – and Duggan’s running is an X factor – there’s a reason that Michigan is top five in almost every rushing defense category.

28Dec 2022
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CFP Semifinal Preview: Michigan Pass Offense vs. TCU Pass Defense

Trevius Hodges-Tomlinson (image via TCU)

If you look at yesterday’s post, I discussed Michigan’s run game (LINK).

TCU head coach Sonny Dykes recently stated that stopping Michigan’s run game “stops their offense.” So apparently they don’t have a lot of respect for Michigan’s passing game and quarterback J.J. McCarthy. That makes some sense – and it’s probably the right approach – but the passing game is not without some playmakers. Overall, Michigan is #92 in passing offense (210.5 yards/game), but they’re #24 in passing efficiency and #29 in yards per attempt. For much of the year, McCarthy was at or near the top of the country in completion percentage for a late-season stretch dropped him down to his current spot at #29 at 65.3%. He has thrown 20 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions on 8.3 yards per attempt. Wide receiver Ronnie Bell leads the team with 56 catches for 754 yards, adding in 3 touchdowns. Cornelius Johnson has about half as many catches (30) but twice as many touchdowns (6). Tight end Luke Schoonmaker (34 catches, 386 yards, 3 TD) should be able to play after suffering a shoulder injury, but freshman Colston Loveland has 7 catches for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns in the past few games. The offensive line has been good in pass protection – and McCarthy has the athleticism to escape – so the Wolverines are tied for #11 nationally with just 1 sack allowed per game.

TCU is #83 in pass defense (235.6 yards allowed/game) but #23 in passing efficiency defense. They rank at #45 in yards allowed per attempt (6.8). Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor have all had big days throwing the ball against the Horned Frogs, but Texas – with its star quarterback and receivers – really struggled. Teams have completed just 53.6% of their passes against them with a total of 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Redshirt sophomore free safety Bud Clark (6’2″, 190) leads the team with 4 interceptions, followed by redshirt junior cornerback Josh Newton (6’0″, 195) and senior cornerback Trevius Hodges-Tomlinson (5’9″, 180) with 3 each. Hodges-Tomlinson was 1st Team All-Big 12 and Newton was 2nd Team, while Clark was Honorable Mention. TCU is #17 in turnover margin (+0.69 per game), so that’s how they hold teams down. They’re just #76 in sacks, led by senior linebacker Dee Winters (6’1″, 230) with 7.5 and senior defensive end Dylan Horton (6’4″, 275) with 6.0. Horton is the best natural pass rusher on the team, in my opinion, while Winters is the best blitzer.

Advantage: Push. TCU has a good secondary, but they are propped up by often being able to drop eight guys into coverage while rushing just the three linemen. If they commit more players to the line of scrimmage in order to stop the run, Michigan will have room to operate on the back end against players who might be put in unfamiliar coverages.